Today our guest blog features one of our favorite designers Alyson Clair of Clair Vintage Inspired clothing. Many of you have become familiar with her fabulous dresses that we always try to keep on hand in our store.
Her line is lovingly handmade right here in Portland and is inspired by everything from vintage (poodle parade Barbie, porcelain animal figures, even her childhood in Newberg). Alyson’s clothes aim to flatter all womanly figures, from the curvy hourglass to the willowy, string bean, Clair will make sure you look good and have fun doing it.
1. How would you describe your personal fashion?
I’m a huge fan of the 1940’s-through early 1960’s. I’d say I’m solidly rooted in these years with more current pieces thrown in. I use leggings for tights, since it gets a bit cold in the winter months. Any time I select a new item for my personal wardrobe I try hard to make sure it isn’t something I’ll look back in 5-10 years and be embarrassed about wearing. Of course it may look like it’s 1961 on me on any given day. For the past year I have been on a huge dress kick. I only have one pair of pants right now, and they are way out of rotation. I love buying solid unique pieces that I can style with jewelry, scarves, dresses or layer with shirts and dresses. Right now I have banned myself from buying any more cardigans, since my sweater shelf is overflowing.
2. Who are your biggest style influencers and why?
I grew up in a small town (Newberg, OR), and there weren’t a lot of clothing stores. It was a HUGE deal when we got a Fred Meyer. So I can’t really say that I had much of a fashion sense at all growing up. (Thankfully I’m old enough there isn’t a ton of photographic evidence) My first jobs were during the summer when I was 16 – I worked at Value Village – where I don’t think I actually made a cent, and at the 99W Drive-In as a snack bar gal. I was also crusing around in my 1961 Bel Air. I think that summer helped solidify the person I turned out to be today. I am very inspired by things of yesteryear, mainly 40’s, 50’s and early 60’s. I love 1958-1961 General Motors automobiles, Scopitone Videos, glitter, ceramic poodles, Dream Pets, rick rack, and 40’s B-movies. I also have a very overactive imagination, and that is where some of my best ideas and inspiration come from. As for people, my two favorite are Peggy Bundy and Zsa Zsa Gabor. I was so fascinated by Peggy growing up. Huge earrings, stretch pants, large belts, crazy prints, big hair! She’s a bit much all at once, but I was her for Halloween a few years back, and I didn’t have to shop much for that outfit. Zsa Zsa Gabor is my more “classy” influence. It’s so amazing and totally ridiculous at the same time. I really enjoy people with distinct looks. Plus they both always wear eyeliner – my most favorite make up and marabou slippers!
3. What is your go-to piece of clothing and why?
Dress/Cardigan/Leggings/Flats – I am just so in love with dresses. It’s one item that can make you look so easily put together. In the summer they are nice and cool, and I just love layering in the winter with boots. I definitely feel I have been going more dress heavy with my line, and I like it!
4. Where do you turn for fashion inspiration?
All over the place, you never know where it is going to hit you. I am a huge thrift store shopper, and people watcher. I like poking around at yard sales, and in random places. I have a huge love for old Portland buildings, and my favorite Portland Blog is (http://vintageportland.
5. What’s the one item you’ll splurge on and why?
Pretty dresses!! Pretty dresses!! If a dress just fits perfect and looks fab, it’s worth the $$. I make my dresses work year round for me.
6. How would you describe Portland Fashion?
I think the best way to describe it is “anything goes”. You never know what you will see on any given day, and I like that. I love seeing pieces from my line styled in so many different ways, which keeps me excited about making clothing. I also think it’s always evolving with new designers. People in Portland are really fantastic about supporting local shops and lines.